The Bell Witch house. In 1817, John Bell and his family were tormented by, who many believed, the spirit of Kate Batts. She was a spiteful old woman who believed that she had been cheated in a land purchase by John Bell, and on her deathbed she vowed to haunt him and his family. Kate's wrath was mainly directed at John and his favorite daughter, Betsy. With the wife and other children she was sometimes heard crooning softly, saying something pleasant, or just ignoring them completely.